Topical antibiotic treatment reduces tympanostomy tube biofilm formation

Laryngoscope. 2011 May;121(5):1067-71. doi: 10.1002/lary.21748. Epub 2011 Mar 24.


Objectives: Single doses of different ototopical antibiotic preparations (OAPs) have been shown to have an unequal reduction of post tympanostomy tube otorrhea (PTTO). Microbial biofilm formation on the tympanostomy tube (TT) has been implicated as one cause of PTTO. The goal of this study was to determine if TT exposure to a single dose of OAP reduces biofilm formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Study design: Prospective and controlled.

Methods: Fluoroplastic TTs were briefly exposed to plasma, followed by one of three OAPs (ofloxacin, neomycin/polymyxin B/hydrocortisone, or ciprofloxacin/dexamethasone) or saline (20 TT per group). TTs were placed in growth media with P. aeruginosa and incubated for 4 days, during which total bacterial growth was monitored by media turbidity. At 4 days, planktonic organisms were killed and biofilm development was measured with microbial counts.

Results: Bacterial growth was significantly delayed by OAPs, with the least growth seen with ciprofloxacin/dexamethasone followed by ofloxacin and neomycin/polymyxin B/hydrocortisone (P ≤ .0001). At day 4, bacterial growth was less with ciprofloxacin/dexamethasone than ofloxacin and neomycin/polymyxin B/hydrocortisone (P < .05). After 4 days, biofilm counts were lower on OAP-treated than saline-treated TTs (P = .0015) with both ciprofloxacin/dexamethasone and ofloxacin significantly less than saline (P < .05). Biofilm counts were not significantly different between OAPs (P > .05).

Conclusions: Treatment of TTs with ototopical antibiotic preparations reduces P. aeruginosa growth and biofilm formation in vitro. This may, in part, explain the reduction of PTTO rates observed with single doses of OAPs.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / adverse effects
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / instrumentation*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents